EXILED…586 B.C.

“Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the LORD which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the LORD God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged or the weak. He gave them all into his hand. And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all its palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions. And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia.”
(2Chronicles 36:14-20)

Thus begins the “times of the Gentiles” Jesus mentioned in Luke 21.

 

The Old Testament is a primer on the character of God, as Moses, Jeremiah, David, and others, recorded how He dealt with Israel, His chosen people. We see His great love for them, how He extended mercy and grace and forgiveness. He patiently guided them to the land He promised Abraham and protected them against their enemies. His character has not changed one iota; the love, grace, mercy, forgiveness He gave them He gives us as believers during this “time of the Gentiles.” But, there comes a time in the life of every nation that persists in an; “in your face” rebellion against the Creator that His holiness and justice overshadow His great love, and that people reap what they have sown.

The prophet Habakkuk questioned how a holy God could use a despicably wicked and brutal nation like the Chaldeans to chastise His chosen people! It was not that the people weren’t guilty of belittling God and scorning His commandments, they were over and over, but to have their vilest enemies who worshipped other gods punish them was hard for him to understand. God basically tells him that He is sovereign and can do as He pleases, but that what He pleases is best whether understood by him or not. Habakkuk was not the only one to wrestle with this. It is an old argument for those who mock the idea of a Creator God who is all- powerful and all- knowing and is sovereign over all His creation.

Just as the “times of the Gentiles” started with the Assyrian Empire, so it will come to an end. And until the end, whenever and however it comes, God’s children must exercise the same firm and enduring faith Habakkuk had when he said: “Though the fig tree may not blossom nor fruit be on the vine, though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls,--yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:16-18)